Monday, May 16, 2011

Tiramisu KitKat Mini (Quick Review)

Thanks to the earthquake, I'm going to start a new type of review. No, I'm not looking to dash off a quick review between tremors or before the bookshelf crashes down on me. The truth is that the earthquakes have lessened in frequency as of late, much to my great relief. However, economic circumstances as a result of the quake have reduced my husband's income and I have taken on a part-time job to make up for some of the shortfall.

Working two more days per week (which leaves me working 5 days a week like "normal" people) means I have less time to write reviews and other blog posts. I find myself faced with a choice and that is to either reduce the frequency of posting or to write some shorter reviews once or twice a week as necessary. Fortunately, I've also found that there are some snacks which require very little in the way of commentary anyway so it's all for the good. In fact, KitKats are ideally suited to short reviews since there is little to say about them beyond what they taste like. They're all the same format (wafer + chocolate of some ilk) and require no history or research. So, thanks to the Great Tohoku Earthquake, you will now receive "quick (aka brief) reviews". You may thank the shifting tectonic plates at your earliest convenience.

I saw these tiramisu KitKats for the first time a few days ago at New Days convenience store. They were being sold as part of a medium size bag with a "half and half" assortment. That is, half plain chocolate KitKats and half tiramisu flavor. I've still got plain mini KitKats on hand and didn't want to spend more for something which I didn't want half of so I cased the local 7-11's until I found one with a box of single minis on sale for 42 yen (52 cents). That allowed me to sample this without the delicious chocolate ballast. Note that the box I bought this from was pretty decimated, and only the second 7-11 had them for sale in this fashion. If you want to try a single bar, you may have to search around a bit for the right shop.

The advertising on the package says "cheese plus coffee harmony". I'm not so sure anyone feels coffee pairs well with "cheese", though this is supposed to be mascarpone, which is relatively bland. This is supposed to be .2% coffee, and 1.2% cheese, which I guess makes it 98.6% chocolate and wafer. It's the average body temperature of chocolate, I guess.

The white chocolate-based bar (the bar is white, I'm not taking pictures of KitKats anymore as they all look the same) smells strongly of coffee. There's also some weird artificial flavor that reminds me ever so slightly of rubber which I imagine is the cheese. On the second bite, this develops more into a somewhat gouda-like flavor. I wish I could say I was surprised that the Japanese version of a tiramisu would include a flavor which is too pungent, but it's actually what I expected. You learn a few things after a few too many experiences with "cheese" sweets flavored like cheddar instead of cream cheese.

This is a bizarre little bar. It has complex flavor which comes through with depth and intensity. The coffee flavor is bitter, strong, and well-balanced by the sweetness. The cheese flavoring tastes different with every bite and by the third bite vanishes into the coffee. The first bite was rather unpleasant, the second strange, and the the third pretty good. It's hard to render a verdict based on this experience but I'd recommend curiosity seekers who have access give it a try, especially if they like coffee. I wouldn't recommend, however, that you  buy the whole bag of minis nor that you pay an expensive import price. As a curiosity, this is okay, but I wouldn't buy it again.


Anonymous said...

I have stumbled upon your blog previously but I never felt the need to comment. Maybe because, no matter how interesting your Japanese snack reviews seemed to me, they were just that - Japanese snacks, a.k.a. food I will never get my hands on. Until today. I was looking for information on black sugar and Google sent me to your blog again. Well, now I do live in Japan and all these things are probably available in the nearest shop. The problem is that I came to Japan with the impression from your blog that there are numerous bizarre kinds of Kit Kat here and I've only seen the regular ones and matcha which I don't really want to try. Could you, please, tell me where I can find these? Are they available in Seven Eleven everywhere around Japan?

(I'm sorry if my comment sounds incoherent. I am not a native speaker.)

Orchid64 said...

I wrote an enormous and detailed answer to your question and Google swallowed it. :-(

The shorter answer is convenience stores are best for current releases, but older releases are either out of reach or can be found at discount snack shops that sell remaining stock. The best konbini to check are 7-11 and New Days. The best snack shop is Okashi no Machioka (which I did a post on awhile back).

There have been a lot of KitKats, but they are released at regular intervals and then disappear. You have to wait for them to be reissued or for new ones to come out, so it can take years to try a lot of different ones. Essentially, except for regional ones (that you can buy at various train stations), if you miss a variety, you can't get them again for awhile (or ever).

If you have any other questions, please let me know! Good luck.

Liz said...

I had an amazing lemon white chocolate 'picnic' kitkat while I was in Japan. I've been pining for it ever since :)

Blue Shoe said...

Huh. Didn't know tiramisu had cheese in it.

Yeah, along that vein I haven't seen any interesting flavors in a while. Kind of disappointing.

Orchid64 said...

Liz: That was a delicious KitKat that was issued for Valentine's Day awhile ago. My husband adored them and we bought up several to save. I think this might be the one you're referring to:

Blue Shoe: It's not pungent cheese and it's quite creamy, so it may not be obviously that it is cheese!

Thanks for commenting!

Eryk said...

You're being pretty kind to this flavor! I though these tasted like that white-cheddar popcorn we have back in the States - SmartFood - but with coffee grains spilled on them.

I missed the green tea variety pack, so it's been a pretty dry season for Kit-Kats in Fukuoka. I was very excited to try these, until I did. Luckily it comes in a double pack with pudding flavor, so it wasn't a total wash.

Anonymous said...

Oh bummer.. an indifferent review!!! You know I have quite a fixation on anything tiramisu because of the mascarpone cheese!

But.. I too have felt the wrath and the aftermath of what happened here, befuddles me to see how many inc corps went belly up.. I'm going to post about that later today..but I'm where you are... heading back to the grind so-to-speak..."sigh"!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the answer. I know they are limited but I thought they would be available in more shops. I found the big bags at 7-11 but thought that was too much for me and just bought a tiramisu ice cream instead :)